Crunch meeting WILL be going ahead after report into giant Milton Keynes warehouse fails to impress

Calls to cancel a meeting to discuss a much criticised report into the Blakelands warehouse planning saga have been rejected.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Talks took place at Milton Keynes Council today (Tuesday) between Labour and the Conservatives after the opposition raised concerns that the audit committee would have little to scrutinise at its meeting on December 1.

Residents and some councillors were so unimpressed by a report produced into the reasons why a warehouse in Yeomans Drive was allowed to double in height to 18m that they queried the reason for holding a committee meeting.

But this afternoon a council spokesperson confirmed that the meeting will be going ahead as scheduled.

The Blakelands warehouseThe Blakelands warehouse
The Blakelands warehouse

At 11.25pm on Monday, independent planning consultant Marc Dorfman published a “preliminary” report into the planning saga, which said the council had made a bona fide decision to give planning approval.

He also concluded that a decision to change a planning official was “perfectly reasonable” and that 13 conditions were left off a decision notice because of an “administrative error.”

Blakelands Residents Association and the council’s Conservative group slammed it for not being the full report they had been expecting, and for not providing full details.

But council leader Cllr Pete Marland (Lab, Wolverton) said the interim report seems “very clear that the decision on Blakelands warehouse was legal and that when the planning committee made that judgement they had all the evidence in front of them, it was debated and taken into account when the vote was taken.

“The same conclusion was reached by MK Council’s draft internal audit report.”

He also says there is no evidence of any “inappropriate activity by officers that led to the report and recommendations by officers to the committee.”

Cllr Marland said: “The important thing is not that people like the decisions of the committee but to ensure residents that those decisions are made in good faith and honestly, and I hope that the interim report does go some way to answering that question on this particular example.”

Cllr Jane Carr, one of the three Lib Dem councillors in the Newport Pagnell South ward said that her “heart goes out to the residents” and added that there remain unanswered questions.

“The report is inadequate,” she said.

“We need a review of the data used by the committee to come to its conclusions.

“The report suggests it was a legal decision but not necessarily that it was the right one. We have to look at all the reasons over the warehouse height and light and noise assessments.”

She said that one way forward would be for the residents to supply the names of experts they would like to see carry out a new probe.

“Residents do not feel heard and understood,” she said.

A spokesperson for the Blakelands Residents Association said: “The residents just want the truth at the end of the day.

“We know and accept the warehouse will remain.”